Voters think David Cameron would show himself to be a “coward” if he dodged televised leaders debates at the next election, a poll published today has found.
A ComRes survey for the Daily Express found 67% of those asked agreed the prime minister “would look like a coward if he declined to take part in leader debates in 2015”, and just 12% disagree.
Cameron has insisted he was “in favour” of the TV debates and would work to make them happen after being accused by Labour of “running scared” from the head-to-head clashes
Last year the prime minister told journalists he felt the TV debates had taken “all the life” out of the election campaign.
In a boost for Ukip the ComRes poll also found 54% of people believe Nigel Farage “should be offered the opportunity to take part alongside the other main party leaders” and only one in five — 20% – disagree.
Andrew Hawkins, ComRes chairman, said of the poll: “By agreeing to the debates in 2010 the main parties created an expectation among voters for future clashes which could backfire badly if they try to wriggle out of them. This genie is well and truly out of the bottle.”
Prior to the publication of the poll a Ukip spokesman told The Huffington Post UK that the party was “not stupid” and recognised the argument for including the party in any debate held today would be hard to win as it does not have any MPs.
However he said Ukip would have a much stronger case after the European elections in 2014, in which it expects to come first or second.
“If we get 20-25% in the European elections then we believe that the argument over whether or not we should be in speaks for itself.
“Of course we think he [Farage] should be involved, we are besting the Lib Dems in polls.”